Potatoho

We’ve been in Idaho for three days now. What began as a one night stay has turned into three here at the Snake River RV Park and Campground here in Idaho Falls. Neither I nor Lisa had ever been to Idaho so it was a new experience for us. Coming into town we were struck by the revelation that we were indeed a long way from home. We’d been in bear country for the last five nights. Now, we were in spud country. All either of us knew about Idaho was that they grew potatoes here, lots of them. When we stopped for dinner at McDonalds I joked with the kids that the fries were grown just down the road. It probably wasn’t too far from the truth. I’m pleased to say that we found this place a surprising cultural hot spot.

Crossing the border between Wyoming and Idaho we came through Jackson, WY. There’s two ways to make that journey: one is almost straight uphill through the mountains on roads with a 10% grade. We tried that one and decided to turn around. Even in low gear it was hard to keep things moving more than 20 MPH. The other way was the long and winding road that followed the Snake River. While both routes were scenic, this was definitely the one for trailers as it was largely flat in comparison. The Snake River is famous for white water rafting and with good reason: there’s a lot of white water. There’s also a huge reservoir that serves as a site for all manner of boating excursions. There’s nothing stranger than seeing a boat dealership with huge ocean ready boats for sale when you’re this far inland.

We opted to stay because we needed some rest. It’s an ironic thing that one might need rest from a vacation, but it’s true. After 10 days on the road it’s good to just sit for a while. Johnny in particular was showing signs of wear. He had a fever and that listless, limp dish rag look that babies get when they’re sick. I don’t know that he had an actual illness as a much as he’d had “too much sun and too much fun.” He’s fair skinned like Lisa and can’t tolerate the heat and sun the way we Carswells can. Lisa claims she’s got royal blood in her veins. I proudly claim peasant stock. We were a bit concerned about staying here as when we drove into town at 7:30 PM the First National Bank told us it was 98 degrees. “We’re having a heat wave here in Idaho. Temperatures are about 10 degrees above normal.” Well that’s just great!

But, our fears proved unfounded. Our first whole day was overcast and relatively cool. The park here has some lovely Elm trees that have provided excellent shade from the afternoon heat. The kids have been enamored with the gift shop and the playground and the swimming pool and the hot tub. Lisa and I have been thrilled to have utility hookups and showers nearby.

We were able to take care of a number of errands including having the van updated on some routine maintenance (oil, transmission fluid, etc.) Lisa did some grocery shopping and picked up a prescription. Everything’s at arm’s reach here in this little burgh of 50,000.

But, that’s not all. I’ve been having trouble with my flute arguing with myself that it must be the instrument and not the player. So, in an effort to rule out the instrument part I went to a music store downtown. I was pleased to find that there were a number of issues that hadn’t been resolved when it was initially serviced. I was sent to a fellow who was recommended as “the best” and he concurred that there were a number of problems left unfinished by the previous mechanic. He boasted that he’d worked on flutes near $15,000 and that people sent him their instruments from all over the country. Apparently the flute professor at ISU here in town (they have a flute professor here?) was directed to him by her husband who is the saxophone professor at ISU here in town (they have a saxophone professor?) with her custom made flute. “No one had ever worked on her flute except the craftsman who made it for her. When she last had it worked on she wasn’t happy with it, so she brought it to me. I found some things that weren’t quite right.”

“O.K., you’ve convinced me. You’re the man. See what you can do with this.” I picked it up yesterday and it just feels better in your hands. The action is better and the tone is better. “It doesn’t sound so airy,” says Lisa. Imagine having your flute worked on in Idaho Falls. “They have flutes here?”

They’ve also got a symphony, chamber orchestra, opera, and theater groups, art galleries and museums, in addition to what you’d expect like rodeos and outdoor activities galore. There’s a variety of medical specialists to rival the big cities. The town was formerly known as Eagle Rock and there is a magnificent bronze and rock diorama downtown to commemorate its rugged history. It says two things to me: Idaho Falls has a lot going on for it and there’s a whole lot of nothing for many miles in every direction.

One of the things we did get to see was the local museum. We saw an exhibit called “Ink and Blood,” a fascinating collection of manuscript fragments from the centuries preceding and following the birth of Christ including the world’s oldest manuscript fragment referencing the Old Testament. For a guy who studied this sort of stuff in Seminary it was really amazing. There was also a working model of the Gutenberg printing press complete with a demonstration of how it worked and a brief lecture about where it came from and the revolutionary effect it had on the church and on the world. We were told that this was the first time this exhibit had been shown West of the Mississippi. How did they pull that off?

I’m not sure how much the kids got out of it, even when I pointed out some of the Greek words they’ve been studying, in one of the manuscripts. “See guys, apostolon, apostle. There it is. Isn’t that amazing?” “Um, yeah Dad, right.”

We hope that seeds are planted that will one day bear fruit.

Johnny has just awakened from his night’s slumber and has his blankie and his new bear in tow. Lisa bought him a little black bear at the Yellowstone gift shop and it has become his favorite thing, as if he’d never been without it. We helped him name it Boo Boo, as in Boo Boo Bear of Yogi Bear fame. Everyone helps him keep track of Boo Boo.

Here’s a theoretical question for you Gen Xers. Do Boo Boo Bear and Elroy Jetson share the same voice? It’s not a question anyone can answer. It’s not even a question most generations would even understand. To some it’s like making sense of the significance of a tiny scrap of paper 3000 years old. But, it’s an important question nonetheless. If any of you pop culture scholars out there can help me, just let me know by responding to this blog.

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